Notes from SQLSaturday #232 in Orlando

Our seventh annual SQLSaturday here in Orlando went well. To the casual observer it might appear to happen without effort, if only that were truly the case! Kudos to Shawn and Karla for a great job of leading the event and we couldn’t have done it without the help of volunteers either.

Now, on to some notes:

  • Speaker party was hosted by Karla and Rodney Landrum at their home. Worked out well. Parking was a challenge but the designated event hotel provided shuttle service as needed. Food from Pollo Tropical was very good.
  • Speaker gift this year was a large beach towel with a super size SQLSaturday #232 logo. We had hoped to get chef jackets but couldn’t find a supplier at the right price (but we now think we have this lined up for next year). Speakers seemed to like the towels. Mine has been claimed by my daughter for a blanket! [Sidebar note; speaker gifts need not expensive, but should be either something they will probably use or something they will display in the office]
  • Attendance at the 7:30 early bird sessions was ok, not great. We talked about it afterward and we won’t do next year – not because of attendance but because it just causes a bit of extra morning chaos getting everyone in the right place. It certainly could be managed, we just think we’re getting enough results to make it worth doing so.
  • Speaker shirts were orange polos this year, perhaps also suitable for Halloween!
  • As usual the speakers served lunch, by far my favorite part of the day
  • Coffee was from Dunkin Donuts and was not good. Disappointing given that we paid for the convenience of just picking it up.
  • We need to remember to have ice to keep the half gallon jugs of creamer cold. I worry about someone getting sick from spoiled creamer.
  • We need to remember to bring cleaning spray and paper towels so we can clean the barbecue sauce from the tables (we made do with water and napkins)
  • Direction signs were perfect, though as Kendal and I were picking them up in the 90 degree heat Saturday afternoon I was already mulling a sign-picker-upper or signs that would melt in the next rain!
  • Lots of sponsors on site this year, good to see
  • Just a bit of chaos at registration at 7:15. It always takes a few minutes to get going, but it’s something we need to nail every time. It sets the tone for the day. We should script this well.
  • I’d like to see the data in the Guidebook phone app to show the speaker name after the title so I don’t have to click each session to see who is speaking
  • Kendal did a nice graph showing the reg count growth trend over the past 5 years. Pretty consistent curve (and I think very similar to the PASS Summit trend, just smaller numbers)
  • We still didn’t hit our goal of 300 (somewhere north of 250 though). Kendal and I plan to focus on the format and message more  next year. Sometimes our formatting is a bit blah and hectic, sometimes our message is too. We’re also going to see what we can do about A/B testing. Always more you could do or wish you did, but we still see our list as our biggest marketing tact, we need to use it as effectively as we can.
  • We need to make sure we don’t print raffle tickets (via the speedpass) if the sponsor isn’t using them.
  • We had one attendee come in at 3pm, registration table closed up then, and we didn’t do a good job of making sure late arrivals knew what to do – they assume they should check in somewhere. I’d like to see a big banner that says “Registration” too.